“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again . . . who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” ~President Theodore Roosevelt (Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910)

Here’s something that’s sad but true: whenever you start to do a good work, there’s always gonna be someone who comes along to tell you what’s wrong with it or, worse, with you.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, but I knew that I wanted to encourage myself and, hopefully, encourage other people. So that’s what I’ve been doing my best to do. Most, if not all, of my posts are not real controversial, at least I don’t think they are. How can you argue with positivity, right?

Well, you might be surprised to know that I’ve gotten quite a few negative comments and a couple of scathing personal attacks from people I don’t know and never met. I’d ask myself why but there’s probably not an answer for that or even if there is, it probably wouldn’t make a difference.

HERE’S WHY THE CRITICS DON’T MATTER:

  • I’m happy.
  • I’m the one covered in dust and sweat.
  • I’m the one who’s actively pursuing my dreams.
  • I’m the one who didn’t give up.
  • I’m the strong one.
  • And if you’re still going, still working toward the life that you want, then you are all those things, too.

SO YOU KEEP GOING

You keep moving forward in the face of people who tell you that you’re wrong, misguided, can’t do it, won’t succeed, will embarrass yourself, they don’t like you, and on and on. You listen to me instead. You’re the strong one. You’re the one who didn’t give up. You rock on & you keep going.

So do you believe that the critics don’t matter? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.

 

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Shelli Johnson

Writer
Shelli Johnson is an award-winning author and journalist. Her debut book, Small as a Mustard Seed, has been heralded as “a superbly-crafted and reader-engaging novel” that will “run you through an emotional marathon at a sprinter’s pace.” Learn more about Shelli here. Keep in touch through her newsletter or subscribe to her blog.

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29 Responses to Why It’s Not The Critic Who Matters

  1. Jenny says:

    Perfect timing as I received a scathing email on Friday that was sharply critical but blatantly obvious that it was her issue(s), not mine. However, if I were honest, it did start my day off on a bad foot and took some work to get back to a healthy mindset. Love Roosevelt’s quote -> keeping this in my blog inspiration journal for when the next email/comment inevitably comes.

    • Hi Jenny! I’m so sorry that you got a scathing email; I know from experience that those are not fun. I love that quote & have it hanging up with a bunch of other quotes that help me keep going. Rock on, darlin. :)

  2. Awesome blog post, Shelli. Terrific quote!

  3. Rebecca Bloomer says:

    Great post. Sorry to hear people have been giving you a hard time. At home we call those people ‘Grandstand jockeys’ they all could have ridden the race better, would have known what to do at a particular moment and of course in their own minds, they’re all champions. LOL…of course they’ve never actually put a saddle on a horse, never mind ridden one (can you tell it’s Melbourne Cup Day?). Ignore them, they mean nothing and the worst part is, they don’t know any better.

    • Hi Rebecca! Thanks for the fab compliment. You know, after blogging for a year and a half, I’ve come to understand that no matter what you post about, someone, somewhere, may have a problem with it & that most of the time, it’s not about me personally. Love this: “Grandstand jockeys.” Isn’t that the truth? *hugs* for you.

  4. Shelli, I recently reviewed a great literary book by an author who I think of as no less than a genius. I read a previous negative review by someone who “…hated the book because the main character was a whinny, egocentric brat.” I wanted to respond yes, yes, YES! Maybe that is what the author was going for. Is everyone in your life well-rounded, logical, and entertaining? If you want entertainment, go watch a movie where all the characters are giving and have beautiful bodies and gorgeous blue eyes. If you want to read about life, read this book. To me, it’s not that the character is likeable or not, but whether the author is getting across what is intended.

    • Hi David! Yes, everyone in my life is well-rounded, logical, and entertaining ~ that’s why I’m so boring. LOL! :D I think it’s interesting too that most non-writers don’t get that writers have to write the book before them, whether the characters in it are likable or not. I always prefer real-life books for that very reason, because the truth of them resonates with me.

  5. I had agreed to take on an editing client who had written a novella a couple weeks ago. I normally ask for a sample beforehand, but for some stupid reason I didn’t. When I started working on it, I realized he had no understanding of tense or POV and the book was a mess because it constantly changed. In addition, it wasn’t a book with a plot, or proper scenes – in a nutshell, I decided I could never fix the problems with the amount he was paying me, and anyway, I felt he should fix them to learn how to be a better writer.

    I wrote him a polite email explaining that I wasn’t able to do the work and why, suggesting he read books on POV and work through the issues. I also gave him his deposit back. Even though it clearly states on my website that I have the ability to turn down a project, he got very upset and then started attacking my looks for some reason, instead of doing what I would do and perhaps trying to fix the issues and then ask me or someone else to edit it.

    I had quite a laugh over his email and showed it to several of my friends, who also had a laugh. I guess I’m saying, though I can’t imagine why ANYONE would be nasty to you Shelli, they aren’t worthy of any reaction from you other than amusement.

    • Hi Sabrynne! *waves*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. For what it’s worth, I think you’re quite lovely, both inside and out. :)

      You know, it used to bother me a lot more when I first started blogging because I just didn’t understand how people could take offense at the kind of posts I was writing. Now, I don’t much let them bother me anymore. My husband and I had a good laugh over one of them because the grammar/spelling/word usage was so bad that I almost felt like correcting it and sending it back (the editor in me~lol) I wanted to say: look, if you’re going to insult someone, especially someone you don’t know, at least use the right word, don’t make that person guess at what you’re trying to say. :D

      Cheers, darlin.

  6. SL_Coelho (@SL_Coelho) says:

    Stay strong Shelli. Those that matter, know what you’re about. Those that matter love and support you. The nay-sayers will always try to bring people down to their level (misery loves company, right?).
    Continue on – so many of us love what you do, and find inspiration from you. No one EVER looked for inspiration in something negative and nasty.

    Cheers, :D

    • Hi Sandy! *waves & heart & hug*

      Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. You are always such a shining light, darlin. You are so right about this: “No one EVER looked for inspiration in something negative and nasty.” :)

  7. Another good blog post. Love the Teddy Roosevelt quote. I’ll paraphrase my tweet; your inner critic excels over your detractors and with so many, that is often the case.
    Begone those who would take jabs! Let them take aim on themselves :)

  8. Denise DeSio says:

    Criticism is hard to swallow, granted. But before discounting a critic entirely, I check to make sure that they don’t have a point, even if they made it in a stupid, mean, or otherwise douchey way. If they did have a point, I also make sure that I don’t give them any reason to make it again!

    • Hi Denise!

      Yes, I actually really appreciate critiques of my work, which I view as different from criticism. I’m all for learning how I could make something better, especially before it goes out to mass readers; I guess it’s a matter of delivery (are they being jerks about it?) or intention (to help you or to put you down?) I do agree that I’ve gotten some criticism from people where they did have a point & I made some adjustments so I didn’t do the same kind of thing again.

      Thanks for your comment, darlin. :)

  9. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Shelli. We “living the dream” kind of folks need to hear positive words like these. We also need to prepare ourselves, too. We can get a ton of positive feedback, good reviews and shout-outs from our peers, but it can very easily take but one negative one to cause us to sink into a period of despair or second-guessing. This happened to me recently. It took a few days to get over it – and it wasn’t that bad, really.
    Thanks, Shelli.

    -Jimmy

    • Hi Jimmy! Someone just told me that it takes seven positive things to erase one negative thing. I never knew that before, but it doesn’t surprise me. I’m glad you mentioned prepared because early on, I wasn’t prepared for it. Now I am, so it doesn’t set me back like it used to. I’m sorry that you went through a rough time, but glad it was over quick & wasn’t that bad. *hugs* for you! :)

  10. [...] Why It’s Not The Critic Who Matters – Shelli Johnson [...]

  11. Thanks for this. Stay strong! So hard to understand why people can be so critical. I guess they have nothing else to contribute to the world. I’m really not a combative person at all, but I pasted that Teddy Roosevelt quote on my boss’s door on my way out of my last job. I tried so hard at that job and she was just so cruel and did so much to undermine my confidence in myself. It’s so much better to build others up than to tear them down. While people are busy criticizing, the rest of us are busy DOING.

    • Hi Linda! *waves*

      Thanks for the good wishes: I will stay strong! You know, I don’t understand it either, why people choose to use their limited time & energy dragging people down. I love this: “While people are busy criticizing, the rest of us are busy DOING.” Amen to that, sister. I’m sorry you had a lousy boss but kudos to you for doing what was best for you & leaving. :)

  12. [...] Shelli Johnson reminds us all that the people who try to tear you down don’t matter—all that matters is that you are happy doing what you [...]

  13. HEAR! HEAR!

    Well said–I agree entirely, wholeheartedly, and all that.

  14. Julian Gallo says:

    Hi Shelli! Well said. The problem mostly lies with so-called “critics” who cannot separate the work from the one doing the work. Not everyone is going to like everything you do – that’s a given – but sometimes there’s a nasty habit of combining the two, until eventually it becomes less about the work and more about its creator – as you so rightly pointed out.

    My attitude towards critics is this: I only listen to those who’s opinion I respect. Everything else is just an opinion and that’s all critics do – express an opinion, not Holy Law handed down to Moses from on high. Yes, even the professional ones.

    If you feel right about what you’re doing, go with your own instincts. At least you’re DOING something. :-)

    • Hi Julian! *waves*

      Lovely to see you.

      My attitude toward critics is the same as yours. Only if they’re in the ring actually DOING something do I listen to what they might have to say because, most of the time, those people are offering criticism to help me. I never listen to people who go after me as a person even if they “mean well” (ha, ha, bless their heart <== a lovely Southern barb).

      I love this: “If you feel right about what you’re doing, go with your own instincts.” Amen to that. Cheers, my friend.